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Robert E. Peary was born on May 6, 1856. In 1881, he was commisioned a civil engineer in the U.S. Navy. In 1886, along with Matthew Henson, Peary traveled to Greenland, where he explored and mapped the land. He also provided enough evidence to prove that Greenland was an island. On April 6, 1909, along with Henson and four Eskimos, Peary was the first man to reach the North Pole. In 1911, he was named an admiral in the U.S. Navy. Peary wrote several books about his travels: Northward Over the Great Ice, Nearest the Pole, and Secret of Polar Travel. On February 20, 1920, Peary died. Three days later, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
On the 13th anniversary of the discovery of the North Pole, the Peary Memorial was unveiled at the cemetery. Peary's daughter, Mrs. Edward Stafford, unveiled the memorial and raised the flag that her father had taken to the North Pole.
In the late 1920's the National Commission of Fine Arts wanted to move the memorial, so on November 21, 1930, Peary was disintered and reinterred near the Coast Guard Memorial.
Each April 6, flowers are placed at Peary's grave by the Virginia American Legion Post that bears his name. On April 6, 1959, a 50th anniversary ceremony was held at the gravesite by the Civil Engineer Corps of the United States.
The Peary Memorial was erected by the National Geographic Society, and it was dedicated on April 6, 1922. The white granite sphere representing, the earth, faces North and is four feet in diameter. At the North Pole, there is a 3-inch bronze star that faces towards the Pole.
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